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St Oswald's

The parish church of Bollington

Bollington Road, Bollington Cross, SK10 5EG
07895 363 038

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Sing-Along Hymns

Revd George Herbert (1593-1633)

portrait

He was born to a wealthy family in Montgomery, Wales, but spent most of his life in England. He served briefly as a Member of Parliament, but moved away from secular life after the death of King James 1. He was ordained in 1629 and was appointed Rector of Bemerton, Somerset in 1630. He was never a healthy man and died of consumption at age 39. Shortly before his death, he sent a manuscript of poems to Nicholas Ferrar at the Anglican Community of Little Gidding asking that they should be published if they might “turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul”. Or, if not, to be burnt.

In 1633 all of his English poems were published in The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, with a preface by Ferrar. The book went through eight editions by 1690.

All of Herbert's surviving English poems are on religious themes and some are varied in such a way as to enhance their meaning, with intricate rhyme schemes, stanzas combining different line lengths and other ingenious formal devices. For example, The Altar was a pattern poem, in which the shorter and longer lines were arranged on the page in the shape of an altar.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life

The poem, The Call was set to music by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life;
Such a Way, as gives us breath,
Such a Truth, as ends all strife,
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength;
Such a Light, as shows a Feast,
Such a Feast, as mends in length,
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart;
Such a Joy, as none can move,
Such a Love, as none can part,
Such a Heart, as joys in love.

[In this tune, there are seven notes on the antepenultimate syllable of each verse (kill, makes, joys)]

The Call

Below are some images from a 1703 edition of the book

book page

King of glory, King of peace

The words of this poem are coupled to a modern tune Redland by Malcolm Archer (born 1952), an English composer and organist. He has been Organist and Director of Music at Wells and St Paul’s Cathedrals. There are not many hymns of this metre, so the tune was presumably composed as an alternative to the Welsh tune Gwalchmai that is more commonly associated with the hymn.

King of glory, King of peace,
I will love Thee;
and that love may never cease,
I will move Thee.
Thou hast granted my request,
Thou hast heard me;
Thou didst note my working breast,
Thou hast spared me.

Wherefore with my utmost art
I will sing Thee,
and the cream of all my heart
I will bring Thee.
Though my sins against me cried,
Thou didst clear me;
and alone, when they replied,
Thou didst hear me.

Seven whole days, not one in seven,
I will praise Thee;
in my heart, though not in heaven,
I can raise Thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort
to enrol Thee:
e’en eternity’s too short
to extol Thee.

Redland

book page
book page

For each hymn we have provided a set of verses together with an electronically generated sound-track. The sound track does not provide any words - just the tune.

The selection of hymns to be included was subject to certain limitations, notably the restrictions of copyright. This meant that many modern hymns were excluded, and the exclusion even applied to some updated versions of traditional hymns. Some publishers have made a few minor changes to make hymns more "inclusive" and have then claimed copyright over the revised text. So in most cases the ORIGINAL texts have been used, even though these may not be the versions that appear in modern hymnals.

In deciding what tunes to be used, this has largely been the Webmaster's personal choice. It is a mixture of familiar tunes and tunes that are not well-known, but deserve to be better known. The webmaster has included some personal favourites (and excluded some pet hates!). The soundtracks provided go with the words provided - if there are four verses, the tune is repeated four times. Where possible tunes have been provided with descants or alternative arrangements.

Wherever possible, there is an explanation of who wrote the words or tunes, the circumstances under which they were written, when (and sometimes why). Many hymns include references to verses appearing in the King James Version of the Bible; more modern translations were not then available! In some cases we have tried to explain these scriptural references or other instances where words have changed their meaning over time.

This selection of "Sing-along Songs of Praise" was originally a series of blog posts written during the COVID Lockdowns of 2020. It was intended to allow people to sing hymns in the safety and privacy of their own homes at a time when hymn-singing in church was not allowed (even if the church building was open!).

When hymns are sung as part of a church service, it is normally the case that the hymn books are set aside at the end of the hymn and the next part of the service continues. There is no time to sit and reflect on the meaning or the beauty of words and/or music. This collection allows you to take your time, to read, listen sing along, reflect, and to repeat a hymn again if you wish.

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Last modified: 02 March 2021